Dealing with chronic illness isn’t just about medicating and learning to cope with the symptoms that particular illness brings with it, it is also about how their entire life is affected by it. Such as not being able to plan outings or meeting with friends too far in advance because they don’t know what their energy level is going to be like that day. Or having to cancel on friends because their symptoms are flaring or they are too exhausted to leave the house.
How do you as a friend of someone who is chronically ill deal with this? Simply put Be Understanding! I briefly covered this in my Chronic Illness 101 – The Basics post, and I feel that it is a key aspect is learning about chronic illness.
Look into their particular illness, getting to know what their symptoms are. Ask questions, ask them to give you a rundown of what a bad day is like for them. This will be helpful because knowing what it’s like for them will mean that you can put yourself in their shoes and know just how bad their illness can be.
Don’t take it personally if they don’t make plans to meet up and hang out, or if they do then have to cancel sometimes at the last minute. It’s not because they don’t want to be friends. Speaking from personal experience I’ve been devastated when I’ve had to cancel on friends or been unable to agree on future plans because I’ve either been to tired, sore or cannot face leaving the house. Sadly it’s part of the course living with a chronic condition. We have to think about what activities will use up our energy and if we are low on energy already simply having a coffee with a friend can wipe you out for days.
If you haven’t seen or heard from your friend in a while, give them a call or a text even just to say hey, how you doing? I can guarantee that will mean the world to them. A friend doesn’t have to be physically by your side to be a friend.